Canva: Pros and Cons from a Professional Graphic Designer

by | Jun 11, 2023 | design, good business, marketing

As a generally mid-to-late adopter of new things, I was slow to jump on the Canva bandwagon. I was skeptical. Do I need a redundant web-based design program? Isn’t Canva going to take away professional graphic design jobs? Do I really want another monthly subscription?

canva logo

I’m definitely on the bandwagon now. I get why it’s so popular and I’m having fun using it. In this blog post, I’ll share my thoughts on the Canva design platform from the perspective of a professional graphic designer. The short version: there’s lots to love and a few no buenos.

What is Canva?

Real quick – if you’re a late late late adopter, you might not even be familiar with Canva. Canva is a free design tool for creating visual documents, presentations, videos, and marketing materials.

Prototype for a card game a I’m creating as a hobby project.

The Pros

Let’s face it, a blank canvas or page is daunting. But with Canva, it is SO EASY to sit down and bang out a few quick prototypes. The reason for that is their huge library of templates. Most of them are … unusable. But I’ve found there are usually enough creative sparks there to get a fire going. I’ve also had a lot of fun with their graphic assets and photo styles (see the header image for this blog).

It’s great for social media content and one-off marketing pieces. I even used it to prototype some designs for a board game I’m working on. Canva really shines when it comes to communicating bite-sized pieces of information – especially for digital use.

Top: Concept I developed in Canva. Bottom: After polishing the design in Adobe, it found its way to some promotional t-shirts.

It’s web-based. I love that it can be accessed on any device and it’s easy to share designs with folks. This is especially useful for creating branded templates that can be handed over to my clients. One client told me that branded templates “saved her tons of time” on her monthly social media calendar.

You can even upload your own logos, fonts, and colors to keep your brand consistent. This is an awesome feature that blends the demand for brand uniformity with all the creative tools on the platform.

It’s free and ubiquitous.

The Cons

It’s not all candy and roses in Canvaland. When I try to push the platform much beyond prototyping or social media content, I hit roadblocks. For instance, many of the typography tools in InDesign or Illustrator are not a thing in Canva. I can’t add the finishing touches or styles to reach my standards of professionalism. The “workaround” is to pull my Canva designs over to Adobe. However, there’s no bridge between the programs, so my designs have to be completely rebuilt from scratch. Truly a pain!

On top of that, when I try to re-build projects outside of Canva, I don’t have access to the same fonts. Those thousands of beautiful fonts? Only available online. Sad face. If I want to use the Canva fonts outside of Canva, I’ll have to buy them. 9 times out of 10 that’s a dealbreaker.

Various designs I’ve created (or started) on Canva.

Lastly, as I mentioned, many of the templates and designs on Canva are fun and flashy, but they are impractical and fall apart when you try to add in real copy and photography. In fact, many of them don’t leave much room for words. 

Final Thoughts

While there are certainly some limitations to using Canva, I’m still enjoying exploring it. It’s a great way to keep my designs fresh, explore outside of my comfort zone, and brainstorm quickly. And at $15 bucks-cancel-anytime a month, it’s a no-brainer (for now). 

Have a great week,